Evolution – Blogging in the Classroom

On Friday afternoon of the University of Wyoming Evolution Conference, I had the pleasure to sit in on Dr. Deb Beck‘s presentation on blogging in the classroom. This was one of two presentation given by Dr. Beck on blogging. Her blog is known globally so I was eager to glean what I could.

Instructional Goal

Beck began her presentation by talking about her desire to have students explore a topic in depth. A fan of engagement theory, she wanted  her students to develop an authentic product for the class.  She mentioned she first used wiki’s as a collaborative workspace; however, there was a lot of group work anxiety in the wiki environment. She wanted to lessen it.. She wanted  a more user-friendly environment, and more specifically, a more student-friendly environment.

The result is UWyo Nonprofit Management Resource, a blog from her class exploring nonprofit issues.

Writing Each Post

Blog post assignments
Blog post assignments

Beck next talked about the process her students went through from idea to blog post. Basically, teams worked on each of the topic areas illustrated in the accompanying picture. The teams collaborated on which posts to write relating to the topic. Each member of the team developed a draft of a blog post that their teammates reviewed.

To help the students succeed, Beck provided students with a video tour of the blog tool as well as provide them with a blogging style guide to help their writing.

Global Audience

In a short period of time, Beck gleamed that they had an audience from across the globe. Through the use of Twitter and other tools used to spread post announcements, the audience continued to grow. Readers also commented on the blog, and students were required to learn how to respond thoughtfully to comments.

The blog was also picked up by key bloggers in the nonprofit field much to Dr. Beck’s delight.

Challenges

Beck reported that her greatest fear with the project centered around copyright issues. She explained that some drafts had to be reworked because of these issues. Students also needed a range of support to get them started and keep them going through the process.

Resources

Dr. Beck was kind enough to share a number of great resources related to blogging in the classroom.

I really enjoyed this presentation. I have watched Dr. Beck’s work over the past 5-8 years, and her global reach and impact continues to grow. I am appreciative of all that I learn from her.

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